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NCAA Tournament Expansion: Gives Conference Expansion Hope of Rationality?

Almost no one wanted to see the NCAA tournament expand to 96 teams. That means almost everyone got their wish when they kept the expansion down to just 3 extra teams, giving each #1 seed a play-in game preceding it.

Not perfect, of course, but certainly better than what could've happened. And if it means that Virginia Tech actually gets to taste the joy of the "real" postseason, then I'm happy for our brothers in Blacksburg, who are eminently less hateable than anyone else in the ACC.

But I'm sure you can find out more about the expansion elsewhere and form your own opinions on it, which will probably be positive. I am wondering, though, about something I haven't seen floated elsewhere yet: does this give us reason to believe that the apocalyptic super-conference idea isn't an inevitability?

I called the Big Ten's desire to expand an inevitability on par with the NCAA's desire to expand to 96. Judging by that, maybe we shouldn't be so certain the B10 will end up with five more teams to form the first of four potential "super-conferences." And if all the Big Ten does is add one team to get a championship game, well, other conferences that already have championship games (that is, the ACC and SEC) won't feel any threat and therefore have no need to expand. If they aren't threatened, they don't steal other conferences' teams, and the landscape is preserved.

Drawing an ultimate conclusion from one to the other is illogical and will likely prove incorrect. But the NCAA keeping expansion to 68 instead of 96 proves one thing: that decision-makers in college athletics can withhold themselves from making cash-grabbing, game-harming decisions when they see them. Until now, that had been a complete myth.

That proof gives me hope that maybe Jim Delaney will do the same, and cease expansion at 12. Change isn't always bad, but cataclysmic change is rarely good.